The Olympus Mju 7020 is a 12-megapixel digital compact camera designed with the creative point-and-shooter in mind.
It distinguishes itself from other compact cameras courtesy of a 3in LCD and 7x optical zoom lens (most cameras in this price range offer a 2.7in screen and 5x optical zoom or lower). However, so-so image quality and a lack of high-end features keep the Olympus Mju 7020 swamped by the herd. It's not a bad compact camera, but we've seen better options elsewhere.
Despite carrying a relatively hefty £219 price tag, the Olympus Mju 7020's styling can only be described as entry-level. Perhaps we're being a bit harsh, but it certainly lacks the fashion accessory verve of many of its rivals (step up and shake your thang, Canon IXUS 120 IS, Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 and Samsung ST50).
By comparison, the Olympus Mju 7020 looks woefully pedestrian - but at least it's reasonably small. Measuring 97x56x26mm and weighing 133g, it will fit pretty much anywhere you care to squeeze it, despite the plus-sized lens (this protrudes slightly from the camera's body, but not to any detrimental degree). The Mju 7020 also sports dinky backlit buttons - a useful, if gaudy touch.
The Olympus Mju 7020 has a fairly complicated interface for a point-and-shoot compact camera: a scrollwheel, a directional pad and five separate buttons (not including the zoom, power and shutter release). We continue to dream of an age when all cameras sport gesture- or touch-based interfaces, but for the time being we'll just have to make do with the Mju 7020.
If you have perpetually sweaty hands (like us) or callous-free fingertips (er, like us), the scroll wheel can be a real pain to navigate. And we mean that literally - our finger regularly slipped against the scroll wheel's edge, which caused minor chafing. On the plus side, it does rotate 360 degrees, unlike some scroll wheels that force you to run the gauntlet from one end to the other.
The Olympus Mju 7020's claim to fame is its 7x optical zoom lens. This opens up a whole new range of photographic opportunities that most regular compact cameras lack. For example, it will allow you to capture a close-up shot of a gorilla posing majestically at Taronga Zoo - without getting your arms torn off in the process. It's also 28mm at the wide end, which ain't too shabby. It took the Olympus Mju 7020 one-and-a-half seconds to take a photo from start-up, which is pretty standard for a point-and-shoot camera.
The Olympus Mju 7020 comes with some interesting consumer-friendly features, including the unimaginatively named Magic Filters. These are digital effects that replicate the look of SLR lens filters. If you like to go all avant-garde with your photos, then these four filter effects are sure to come in handy (the fish-eye filter is particularly effective). Other modes and features on offer include face detection, 15 scene modes, an assortment of white balance presets and in-camera editing tools - all the usual suspects, in other words.
Unfortunately, when it comes to image quality the Olympus Mju 7020 failed to impress. Barrel distortion was evident in our panorama shots, while colours appeared slightly muted. This led to some dull looking photos that were crying out for a splash of vibrancy - it's nothing Photoshop can't fix, but why go through the hassle? On the plus side, images were sharp for the most part and noise wasn't too problematic; we barely noticed it even at ISO 400.
It's worth noting that the Olympus Mju 7020 uses xD picture cards rather than the more common SD/SDHC format. If you already own an SD card-based camera and are looking to upgrade, this is something to be mindful of.
Curiously, despite the inclusion of an HDMI port, the Olympus Mju 7020 lacks HD video recording. This is something that has almost become de rigueur amongst midrange compacts and its omission is somewhat baffling. It's doubtful you would use this mode with any regularity, but it would've been nice to have the option nonetheless.
NEXT: our expert verdict >>